Affordable Home Upgrades

Upgrades in Homes for Sale in San Antonio

Determining the increased value to a home when doing an upgrade or update is difficult even for a professional installer; one has to assess the variables of any neighborhood, comparable homes, and whether the cabinets and appliances will also be updated.

Interior Upgrades

Counter Top Upgrades

I’ve been told that professional installers have determined that on average, granite counter tops give an approximate 70% return on investment. Additionally, granite is the countertop that most people are interested in when they see an updated kitchen.

  • Granite – $38-$82/Square Foot
    (100% quarried natural igneous rock, green in nature because it has lead the market for so long that it is rarely replaced due to style change or wearing out, and low maintenance requiring only annual sealing which can be done by a professional or very easily by the homeowner)
  • Marble – $45-$82/Square Foot
    (100% quarried natural metamorphic rock, durable with proper care and suitable for kitchen islands and bathroom areas, less durable than granite, requires annual sealing)
  • Quartz (Silestone) – $48-$94/Square Foot
    (Engineered Stone, 100% non-porous, manufactured from 93% quartz and 7% resin binders and pigments, available in many 100’s of colors, twice as strong as granite, lowest maintenance countertop on the market, usually has the best warranties in the market, less natural in character than granite)
  • Ceramic Tile – Most people replace ceramic tile counter tops due to the lack of durability, difficulty to clean, and dislike of the grout lines. That stated, it is an easier material to replace than a basic laminate counter. Additionally, water proof and stain proof grout is available making the counter even more maintenance free.
  • Acrylic – $28-$40/Square Foot
    (Referred to as solid surface, non-porous, resistant to impact and staining, more affordable than granite, marble, and quartz; more durable than laminate)
  • Laminates – $10.50-$13/Square Foot
    (Multiple layers of resin-soaked kraft paper, topped by a patterned sheet of melamine. Resists grease and stains, can be cleaned with soap and water, accounts for 75% of the market, most affordable solution on the market.)

* Please note that price ranges are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Information about counter tops was provided by Natural Stone Design (

Flooring Upgrades

  • Carpet – $1-3.50 – When selling a home it always advised that if you are not replacing the carpet then it should be professionally cleaned. Typically there is a $0.40 return to every $1.00 spent. Click here to see Carpet Care information.
  • Vinyl – $0.89-4.00 – This is sheet vinyl and comes in many grades and colors. Typically there is a $0.25 return to every $1.00 spent
  • Ceramic and Porcelain Tile – $0.99-3.50 – Tiles come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Typically there is a $1.00 return to every $1.00 spent.
  • Laminate – $1.09-3.99 – Laminate flooring is a vinyl surfaced pressed wood core slat that looks like wood and is finished with an aluminum oxide coating. These floors float on the surface of the floor base and snap together. Typically there is a $0.70 return to every $1.00 spent.
  • Wood Veneer – $2.99-3.99 – Wood veneer flooring is a thin wood veneer surfaced pressed wood core slat that looks like wood and is finished like a traditional hard wood floor typically with a poly coating or varnish. These floors float on the surface of the floor base and snap together like laminate flooring. Typically there is a $0.70 return to every $1.00 spent.
  • Simulated Wood Vinyl – $1.39-3.00 – Simulated wood vinyl floors come in planks and are glued to the floor base. According to Dusty at Interior Surfaces, a whole seller, a lot of property owners and managers are installing these floors in their rental units since the floors last 30 years and damaged portions can be replaced easily. Typically there is a $0.70 return to every $1.00 spent.
  • Engineered Wood – $2.99-5.99 – Engineered wood consists of a plywood core with a solid wood surface. With wood having the highest return at $3.00 for every $1.00 spent, engineered wood floors makes up 95% of the wood floor market with solid wood floors making up the remaining 5%.
  • Solid Wood – $3.29-6.99 – Solid wood floors make up 5% of the wood flooring market and can be almost any type of wood including exotics.
  • Granite (tiles) – $7.50-15.50 – Like wood floors, granite returns $3.00 for every $1.00 spent.
  • * Please note that price ranges are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Information about flooring materials was provided by RW Dust (Dusty) at Interior Surfaces ( Interior Surfaces provides 6 months no interest financing and is a whole seller. When you contact him please let him know that Randy Elgin sent you.

    Upgrades or Improvements In General

    According to, a popular home improvement is to finish a basement, but what if you live in Texas and don’t have a basement? There is always the loft that you can turn into a home theater. According to this website creating a theater room or finishing a basement is often one of the lowest returning home improvements where you’ll only receive about 50% of what you put into the cost of the project when it comes time to sell. As I’ve stated before to too many sellers in San Antonio, if you’re thinking about finishing out your garage, putting in a pool or creating a Home Theater Room, do it because you want the added space and/or amenities. Please don’t expect it to boost the value of your home.

    As a rule of thumb, two of the best improvements you can do are remodeling kitchens and baths. And this should make sense because they see the most activity. High quality appliances, spacious bathrooms, and quality workmanship do a lot to attract buyers. Typically you can expect to receive about 75-90% of the cost of updating one of these rooms.

    The list I got from the website of good home improvements to make included:

    Adding or remodeling a bathroom
    Kitchen improvements
    Adding a bedroom
    Adding a garage

    Exterior Upgrades

    When it comes to the exterior of a home, buyers are looking for low maintenance, great landscaping, and retreats from the hectic everyday world.

    Maintenance – Natural stone and brick are the common items that home owners want because typically it doesn’t take much to maintain them and they retain their value. Stucco, cement fiber board, vinyl siding and wood (plywood or pressed board) all require some kind of annual maintenance with varying degrees of cost.

    • 4 sides masonry – usually this consists of brick and/or stone on the lower level with cement fiber board on the second story and/or the soffits and fascia.

    Landscaping – Another rule of thumb that I’ve come across as a home owner is that purchasing a new home without landscaping will cost you about 5-10% of the value of the home. So what constitutes good landscaping and what brings the highest offer for a home for sale in San Antonio? My recommendation is to go low maintenance and drought tolerant plants.

    • Water Features – Pools, Fountains, Water Falls, Hot Tubs – In Texas it is hot so while these may relax you for a short period of time, unless the homes in your neighborhood in general have water features, it may be best just to install them if that is what you like. Expect to get less than 50% of the value out of the feature.
    • Fruit Trees – Peach cobbler is a great treat and not having to purchase Texas peaches has been a blessing in the past. However, with fruit bearing trees comes the added requirement of consistent watering, bugs, and possibly other maintenance requirements that I’m not familiar with. Take into account that while the trees may have brought you a lot of enjoyment in the past, while you are selling your house it is a commodity just like all the others on the market in the same area. Personally, I’d purchase a home with fruit bearing trees because I think that adds value to the property.

    Here is a question I get from time-to-time: I paid a lot for X, Y, and Z so I should get more money than my neighbor! Right?

    Porches / Patios – A covered patio in a track housing development for a brand new home will cost the buyer somewhere between $3500-8000. Now if everyone who purchased the same size home with the same number of bedrooms and baths added the covered patio, there would be no difference in price except for the condition of the home and when you had to sell it. However, if you are competing against a home that didn’t have the covered patio then you have a chance of recovering between 40-70% of the original cost.

    Sprinkler Systems – My question to you is have you ever paid a professional to come out to your home, locate a leak, and fix it? If not, you would be startled at the cost and realize that it probably makes more sense to just dig a new line and start over since the labor cost alone would probably be 2 or 3 times what the materials cost. Sprinkler systems can save time and money and keep your lawn in good shape provided you spent the time, money and energy maintaining the system and it works when it is time to sell. Curious to know true costs? Drive a neighborhood in the summer and ask the owner what they do. My neighbor doesn’t have a sprinkler system and he has the greenest lawn on the block.

    Swimming Pools – My question to you is have you ever seen an above ground pool at a $500,000 house? When asked if a pool adds value or not, usually the answer is if the pool is above ground, remove it. In my opinion the value of a pool begins once it is installed and ends once you decide to sell the home. Regardless that the pool is custom or not, most estimates for dollar value is around 50% and I’ve seen cases where the home with a pool sold for the same $/SF as similar houses in a neighborhood without pools.

    Other Upgrades

    There are a number of things that home owners have put into their homes that they thoroughly enjoyed for many years, yet don’t necessarily increase the value of the home they are trying to sell. What is worse is when they aren’t maintained. Below are just a few reasons I found on about why a buyer may pass up the home all together:

    • Swimming Pool
    • Missing or small garage
    • Bad home layout
    • Old appliances and systems (plumbing, electrical, infrastructure)
    • Ugly decor
    • Roof in poor condition
    • Location
    • Lack of maintenance

    Got questions? Please complete the form below and we’ll make time for you.